gmhTODAY 12 gmhToday Jan Feb 2017 - Page 20

Project Roadmap Written By Robin Shepherd When the time comes for our kids to start making their own decisions about getting an education and building a future, they need a roadmap. I know what you’re thinking. . . try telling that to a teenager! One local organization is doing just that, with great results. First year program participants (l-r): Edgar Gonzalez, Esperanza Gonzalez, Isidro Gonzalez, Jennifer Gonzalez, Freda Ross, Claudia Ross, Mario Banuelos, Uriel “Cookie” Alvarez, Irene Macias-Morris, Irisbel Gonzalez, Former Morgan Hill Mayor Dennis Kennedy, George Flores, Luis Gonzalez, Francesco Justo. In 2010, George Flores, Claudia Rossi and Mario Banuelos established Project Roadmap. The focus of Project Roadmap is to create a college going culture among first-generation students and their parents. The goal is to empower kids to create their own roadmap so they can achieve their full potential, from campus to career. Empowered parents are also part of the equation. George Flores was and still is a Science teacher at Britton Middle School. Claudia Rossi was on the Morgan Hill Unified School District (MHUSD) Board of Education in 2010, and she’s currently on the Santa Clara County Board of Education. Mario Banuelos is a founding board member of the Morgan Hill Community Foundation (MHCF). All three are passionate advocates of this program. According to George, “We attended a countywide conference, ALAS (Achieving Latinx Advancement and Success), at San José State University, and it got me thinking that we could do our own conference. We could hold workshops to help students and their parents come up with a long-term roadmap that included the steps they needed to take and a timeline.” Claudia and Mario agreed. “Project Roadmap serves kids from middle school through high school,” George explained. “We work with kids who think they’re not college material and kids who dream of going to the big-name schools but have little idea what it takes to get there. “From the beginning, we’ve worked closely with district counselors and teachers. Our schools disseminate the necessary information related to college planning, but for some families it can be overwhelming and additional guidance is required along the way. For Spanishspeaking parents we provide information in their native language so they can be aware and supportive of their students’ goals and actions. “Our students need to know the entrance requirements for different colleges, when to enroll in A-G classes, how many AP classes to take and what defines a competitive GPA score. Some families don’t realize they’re eligible for financial aid or how to apply for it. They need to know when the SAT must be taken and how students can prepare for it. Failure to take certain steps at the right time means missed opportunities. “It’s a reality check for the kids,” George said, adding, “There’s no room for pipedreams!” Claudia Rossi recalled the first meeting of Project Roadmap: “We got students and their parents together and said, ‘We want you to be able to follow the best possible path to a college education, which will open doors of opportunity. There’s a roadmap for success for each of you.’” “We met with the families on weekends and asked what their concerns were and how we could help,” Claudia added. “When a freshman student said he felt totally lost in class, we asked if a workshop on effective note-taking would help. He said yes, so we made it happen, and many students attended. When the kids said they needed help with SAT test preparation, we put together a new workshop. At one meeting a parent asked ‘What can we do to help our kids get scholarships?’ We set up a workshop for that too.” As Mario Banuelos described it, “We’re just facilitators. The kids learn to drive the process.” Mario not only committed his time to help move the project forward, but he also asked the MHCF board to consider funding support for Project Roadmap. “We invite school administrators, teachers and professionals from business, law and other fields to lead workshops,” Mario said, “Many are first-generation college grads who’ve overcome obstacles 20 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 gmhtoday.com Project Roadmap Written By Robin Shepherd When the time comes for our kids to start making their own decisions about getting an education and building a future, they need a roadmap. I know what you’re thinking. . . try telling that to a teenager! One local organization is doing just that, with great results. First year program participants (l-r): Edgar Gonzalez, Esperanza Gonzalez, Isidro Gonzalez, Jennifer Gonzalez, Freda Ross, Claudia Ross, Mario Banuelos, Uriel “Cookie” Alvarez, Irene Macias-Morris, Irisbel Gonzalez, Former Morgan Hill Mayor Dennis Kennedy, George Flores, Luis Gonzalez, Francesco Justo. I n 2010, George Flores, Claudia Rossi and Mario Banuelos established Project Roadmap. The focus of Project Roadmap is to create a college going culture among first-generation students and their parents. The goal is to empower kids to create their own roadmap so they can achieve their full potential, from campus to career. Empowered parents are also part of the equation. George Flores was and still is a Science teacher at Britton Middle School. Claudia Rossi was on the Morgan Hill Unified School District (MHUSD) Board of Education in 2010, and she’s currently on the Santa Clara County Board of Education. Mario Banuelos is a founding board member of the Morgan Hill Community Foundation (MHCF). All three are passionate advocates of this program. According to George, “We attended a countywide conference, ALAS (Achieving Latinx Advancement and Success), at San José State University, and it got me thinking that we could do our own conference. 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